Pope Francis, named Time's Person of the Year yesterday, has attacked exorbitant paychecks and bonuses in the first peace message of his pontificate.

Francis said that the extortionate financial rewards were symptomatic of the greed and inequality which characterises the wider economy.

"The grave financial and economic crises of the present time ... have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy," he said.

"The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles," he continued.

He called for a greater distribution of wealth between the rich and the poor around the world in his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace on 1 January next year.

Francis urged the Catholic Church to be more just, prudent and less ostentatious in order to relate more to the poor.

The first Argentinian to ever reside in the Vatican, Francis is characterised by prudence, denying the papal apartment in the Vatican in preference of a small suite in a Vatican guest house.

The message, titled "Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace", also condemned injustice, human trafficking, organised crime and the weapons trade as impediments to peace.

Recently, Francis set up a Vatican task force to tackle sex abuse in the church, and revealed that he used to be a bouncer at a Buenos Aires nightclub, leading to calls that he is the "coolest Pope ever".

Named after St Francis of Assisi, the Pope is a defender of the proletariat and those who are subjugated, as demonstrated by his visit to Lampedusa in Italy after hundreds of migrants died trying to enter Italy from North Africa.

It has also been rumoured that he walks the streets of Rome undercover to talk to the homeless and offer them alms.